Jonathan Farrington in conversation with Jill Konrath.
What do you do after you have written to mega-selling books? If you are Jill Konrath, you write another one. This month, Jonathan Farrington interviews Jill Konrath, sales strategist and bestselling author of Selling to Big Companies and SNAP Selling, about her brilliant brand new book, AGILE SELLING, which has just been published.
JF: So Jill, yet another book, congratulations! What was your motivation for writing AGILE SELLING?
JK: Shortly after SNAP Selling came out, tons of salespeople said to me, “This is great info on selling to today’s crazy-busy prospects. But I’m frazzled, too. How can you help me?”
Initially, I thought it was a time management problem. But after pondering it awhile, I realized it was an information management problem.
Too much was changing: Customers, products, buying cycles, the economy, competitors. It was literally impossible to keep up at the same time you needed to meet your numbers. Plus, the sales skills needed for success were changing, too.
Since one of my core competencies is being an agile learner/seller, I knew it was time to share my expertise in this area. Plus, there’s some fascinating research on this topic that I wanted salespeople to know about.
JF: Having already written two massive bestsellers, did you find the planning and preparation stages easier this time?
JK: I wish! Writing a book is never an easy endeavour. It simmers inside you for a while, trying to find its key message and shape. Then there’s the challenge of making it enjoyable, informative and insightful at the same time. That’s not easy.
JF: I think that attention spans of the average sales person are decreasing alarmingly, so my next question is does anyone have time to read books these days?
JK: Everyone’s attention span is decreasing these days, not just salespeople. We’re bombarded with information at the same time we’re time-constrained. But lots of people still buy books – especially if they’re relevant, get to the point fast and are easily digestible. That’s why each chapter in AGILE SELLING is both short and actionable.
JF: Ok, let’s get back to AGILE SELLING. I took away three “main messages.” The first is “mind-set” – can your share why you believe that this is so critical?
JK: If you’re a new seller, having an agile mind-set keeps you in the game when you’re struggling to become proficient. If you’re an experienced rep, it enables you to stay at the top of your game.
In AGILE SELLING, I outline four key mind-sets that everyone can embrace to be more successful. I’ll just mention two here:
- Reframe failure: Sales can feel brutal sometimes. Each month you’re evaluated on “meeting your numbers.” Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. If you define these negative events as failures, it can be devastating.
The truth is, they need to be reframed as “valuable learning experiences.” Doing so enables you to grow from your mistakes. Otherwise you’re doomed to repeat them. And that’s what leads to the ultimate failure in this profession.
- Turn problems into challenges: Again, this is essential. When you see things as problems, you lose your ability to think clearly or find new options. In short, you get stuck in the morass.
However, your brain literally can’t resist a challenge. It immediately starts looking through its mental files to see if it can help you out. Plus, it scans the environment looking for new information to help you achieve your goals.
Implementing these two mind-set shifts will have a significant impact on sales success.
JF: Another key area you focus on in AGILE SELLING is “learning” Please expand your thinking here.
JK: Recent research by CEB, Korn/Ferry and DDI all suggests that learning agility ─ which involves speed and flexibility ─ is one of the biggest predictors of success. And in a world of constant change, the ability to do it rapidly makes a huge difference.
But no one has ever taught us how to do that. Our antiquated “study” is virtually worthless today. Mostly we muddle along, hoping to pick up enough though osmosis to survive.
What people don’t realize is that learning agility is a skill that can be mastered – just like any other. There’s a process for doing it right. In AGILE SELLING, I not only outline each of these skills, I show exactly how they are applied to the sales process.
For example, “sequencing” is a key component of rapid learning. Rather than trying to learn it all at once, we need to ask: What is essential to learn first? Then, all attention needs to be focused on proficiency in that area before moving on to the next logical thing to learn.
Other rapid learning strategies include chunking, dumping, connecting, practicing and prioritizing. Once you learn how to learn, you can tackle anything.
JF: Finally, the third key element you suggest is “habits of agile sellers,” and you go beyond time management, don’t you?
JK: Yes. There’s an incredible body of research about what works and what doesn’t. Agile sellers don’t multitask, they monotask. They pick the right role models. They play games with themselves. They borrow other people’s brains. It’s fascinating when you learn about this information. Even one tidbit can radically transform your success.
JF: Many thanks Jill, and you know that everyone here at Camp TSW, wishes you the very best of luck with AGILE SELLING.
Personal Footnote: Selling to Big Companies and SNAP Selling provided us with fresh ideas and new stimulation, whilst at the same time, allowing Jill to demonstrate why she is one of the foremost thought leaders in the sales space. Beyond that, Jill is an accomplished wordsmith, who articulates her messages superbly. It is my view that Agile Selling will surpass the success of both those previous books, simply because it doesn’t just address issues facing frontline sellers today, but also in the future. Order your copy today HERE